Bacteria Working to Eat

Gram-negative bacteria perform molecular acrobatics just to eat. Because they're encased by two membranes, they must haul nutrients across both. To test one theory of how the bacteria manage this feat, researchers used computer simulations of two proteins involved in importing vitamin B12. Here, the protein (red) anchored in the inner membrane of bacteria tugs on a much larger protein (green and blue) in the outer membrane. Part of the larger protein unwinds, creating a pore through which the vitamin can pass. Courtesy of biophysicist Emad Tajkhorshid of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Featured in the July 18, 2007, issue of Biomedical Beat.
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